Upper Tribunal concerned by Home Office appeals

10 February 2016
The Upper Tribunal has rejected another Home Office permission to appeal decisions of the First-tier. The rejection, VV (grounds of appeal) [2016] UKUT 53 (IAC) (13 November 2015), includes a criticism of Home Office conduct. The Upper Tribunal found, in this case and others, unsatisfactory grounds for appeal, and urged the Home Office to respect well-established principles.

This is not the first time the Upper Tribunal has implored the Home Office to respect decisions. The Upper Tribunal included a similar criticism of Home Office appeals in two other recent cases. Both Nixon (permission to appeal: grounds) [2014] UKUT 368 (IAC) and MR (permission to appeal: Tribunal’s approach) Brazil [2015] UKUT 00029 (IAC) were rejected. The rejections and criticisms of the Upper Tribunal are revealing of Home Office conduct, showing either a disregard for the appeal process or incompetency in drafting appeals.

Well-established principles

The appeal process is an integral process in the legal system, allowing both a defendant and a plaintiff to request a judicial review of a ruling. Appeals are meant to ensure any errors of law or oversights made by the judge do not lead to an unfair or unjust ruling. However, appeals can also be rejected when a judicial review finds no reasonable grounds for appeal.

The Upper Tribunal’s assessment of VV (grounds of appeal) [2016] UKUT 53 (IAC) (13 November 2015) found no reasonable grounds for appeal. Not only was the appeal rejected by the Upper Tribunal, but the decision also included a criticism of Home Office conduct:

“Experience in this and other appeals by the Respondent leads us to express concern as to whether, before formulating grounds of appeal, sufficient care is being taken within the Home Office to apply well-established principles for identifying an error of law and to appraise fairly and realistically the manner in which judges of the First-Tier Tribunal have expressed their conclusions.”

Frustrations with Home Office appeals

The concerns raised by the Upper Tribunal reveal the unfortunate reality of the appeal process. An appeal can be made without reasonable grounds, which must be assessed by the Upper Tribunal regardless of whether permission to appeal will be granted. It is expected that appellants understand the grounds necessary for appeal, and that the grounds are well reasoned.

As a government body, the Home Office should be held to the highest standards of the law. The criticisms of the Upper Tribunal seem to reflect either a disregard for the well-established principles of the appeal process, or an inability to demonstrate reasonable grounds for appeal.

The Upper Tribunal’s criticism also addresses the frequency of the Home Office conduct: “Again we feel bound to question whether those responsible for launching grounds of appeal of this nature are correctly applying in each case the law on what must be demonstrated in order to vitiate an appeal decision for legal inadequacy of reasoning.”

Upper Tribunal concerns unlikely to change conduct

Although the Upper Tribunal has criticised the appeals made by the Home Office on numerous occasions, it is unlikely that any further consequences will follow. There is no recourse for faulty appeals, and although the criticism reflects poorly on the Home Office, the conduct is unlikely to change.


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